Writers Strike Called

There seems to be little hope that a strike beginning at 12:01 Monday by the Writer’s Guild of America can be averted.

But before they do, Bryan Fuller and his scribes were busy Thursday night and on to Friday morning trying to finish one more “Pushing Daisies” script.

“We’re desperately trying to finish one last script before we are instructed to put our pencils down,” Bryan said at midnight. “We want to keep our crew employed as long as we possibly can, but don’t know how long that will be. ”

“Desperate Housewives” will shoot the tenth script next week, and then the well is dry.

And the truth is, according to producers like Bill Lawrence of “Scrubs,” if the work stops for a couple of weeks or even a month, it’s not going to do much damage.

Scripts have been stockpiled and, while November is a busy month, some specials bounce network programs off the air anyway. We won’t be seeing “Pushing Daisies” until Nov. 14 because of the Country Music Awards. And the lights go out for much of the month of December.

“The only thing that can really screw up everything is if it’s like it was in 1988 when it went on for 22 weeks,” says Lawrence. “And then you’re talking about drastically altering this TV season as well as the next one. ”

For “Scrubs,” there are two, perhaps three, scripts that have been completed and could be shot. After that, nada.

If things drag on, Lawrence says that chances are good that the final episodes would eventually be written, shot – and pop up on DVD.

“The one thing that’s keeping me from panicking completely as far as ‘Scrubs goes is I have such a good relationship with the studio, that were there something that essentially erased the rest of the year, you know, (we would still do) a finale of the series even if it was something that would just be released on a DVD or something,” Lawrence says. “To tell you the truth it’d probably end up making more money. ”

And money is the central issue here.

The bottom line is over DVD and online residual payments. Writers believe they are not being fairly compensated for their work, which is increasingly being seen through DVD sales and online with online becoming a bigger factor in the coming years. For a more detailed explaination, go to the Wall Street Journal’s story.

The impact is more than just a delay in new programs. During the 1988 strike, almost 10 percent of the TV viewing audience left and never returned.

In these days of eroding audiences, a long strike could cripple the industry. Many people will be impacted, from publicists to dry cleaners, if this proves to be a long strike.

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